North Korea has placed surface-to-surface missiles on launch pads in the Yellow Sea, Yonhap news agency said, as the United States and South Korea began military drills and China called for emergency talks.
China made it clear that the talks would not amount to a resumption of six-party disarmament discussions which North Korea walked out of two years ago and declared dead. South Korea said it would carefully consider China’s suggestion.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak had told a visiting Chinese delegation that Beijing, North Korea’s only major ally which is traditionally reluctant to criticise the reclusive regime, should do more to help.
China, which agreed with South Korea that the situation was “worrisome”, suggested the emergency talks for December among North and South Korea, host China, the United States, Japan and Russia.
Japan was non-committal. “We want to respond cautiously while cooperating closely with South Korea and the United States,” Kyodo news agency quoted Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Tetsuro Fukuyama as saying.
Beijing has repeatedly urged restraint and fresh talks to defuse tensions.
Kyodo quoted a Japanese government official as saying the issues of denuclearisation and Tuesday’s attack on the island of Yeonpyeong had to be separate.
“We’ll see what South Korea thinks, but the six-party talks are a place to discuss the nuclear issue, so should they be taking up the issue of the attacks?”
Yonhap said North Korea had moved surface-to-air missiles to frontline areas, days after it shelled Yeonpyeong killing four people.
The North’s official KCNA news agency warned of retaliatory action if its territory is violated.